Cool Shuswap climate contributes to award-winning wines

Local vineyards building region’s reputation for excellent wines

By Barb Brouwer

Contributor

Daylight hours are lengthening and the soil is warming as the province celebrates Wine Month.

There is more than great wines to celebrate in the region.

In July 2018, the Shuswap received its own “geographical indication” – a way of identifying regions of origin for B.C. wines – for the Wines of Marked Quality Regulation of the province’s Food and Agricultural Products Classification Act.

Shuswap wineries grow predominately of cool-climate varieties of grapes and, with the influence of Shuswap Lake, each vineyard has its own microclimate, giving special character to its wines, notes the online www.shuswapwineries.ca.

Shuswap summers are usually warm and dry, with long sunny days, while nights are cool, which helps to preserve flavours in the grapes. Winters are more moist then the wine regions to the south, with most of the moisture falling as snow.

The appellation, a symbol of quality assurance, is good news for wineries who choose to have their wines certified BCQVA (vintners quality assurance), says Laura Kittmer, media relations manager with the BC Wine Institute.

Six unique wineries operate near Salmon Arm and all are all able to use the VQA on some, if not all of their wines, if they choose to get them tested Kittmer says.

“They are producing some really great wines in the region so it’s great to see them get their own appellation.”

The first of the licensed wineries to open was Larch Hills Winery in 1997.

Just south of Salmon Arm at 110 Timms Rd., Larch Hills Winery is a family run vineyard and winery, owned by Jack Manser.

All Larch Hills wines are made from 100 per cent B.C. grapes, either from the main vineyard or from contracted vineyards farther south in the Okanagan Valley. And all are made and bottled on the premises near the Larch Hills ski area.

From total bush in 1987, the vineyard now produces all European varietals, including whites, reds and blends. The winery is open year round from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. but in winter, call ahead to 250-832-0155 to check on road conditions.

In the North Shuswap, owners Jake and Marg Ootes are delighted they retired and exchanged life in the North for a winery and more temperate climate with Celista Estate Winery.

“I would say this is a perfect cool climate grape-growing area and is perfect for grapes like Ortega, Gewürztraminer and Siegerrebe,” says Jake, who is delighted with the Shuswap appellation. “We have soils that are rich in minerals.

The Ootes are celebrating 10 years with the winery and 17 years with their vineyard and have earned 80 medals in a decade.

“Canadian wines are competing well on international markets in terms of award-winning wines, which is surprising as in B.C. we have 10,00 acres, whereas California has 500,000 acres,” says Jake proudly. “We’re competing very well and I suspect it’s the terroir.”

He says the literal translation for terroir is soil but in wine talk, it also refers to air quality, moisture, rain and air flow.

“Smoke does affect the wine but we have learned to deal with it through the wine-making process and we use of specific fermentation materials,” he says of the effects of smoke from wildfires.

Celista Estate Winery produces three whites, a rosé and two reds, a dessert wine and a port.

The winery will be open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily as of Easter weekend. Taste the wine along with gourmet cheese and fresh homemade bread, while you listen to Jake’s fascinating stories about life in the North.

Located in Tappen, Recline Ridge Vineyards and Winery is family-owned and operated. Their vineyards enjoy sun-drenched days and cool evenings, which maximize varietal character and set the stage for the production of award-winning wines noted for their clean sound structure, intense flavours and perfect balance.

Sample the winery’s red and white offerings on the patio and drink in the scenery of the region, overlooking the vineyard.

Sunnybrae Vineyards and Winery enjoys its own microclimate, nestled below Bastion Mt. on Sunnyrae Canoe Point Road. The south sloping volcanic ash land basks in sunshine during daylight hours and enjoys cooling breezes in the evenings.

Visitors are invited to the second floor wine tasting room to enjoy delicious white, red and rosé wines made on their premises using 100 per cent B.C. grown grapes.

Located on Yankee Flats Road, Ovino vineyards and winery sits on a glacier carved landscape that offers mostly sandy and sandy loam soils, marbled with infrequent layers of clay. The vines are located on a sun drenched knoll to maximize photosynthesis and air flow.

Check online at www.ovinowinery.com for the wines on offer, hours of operation and directions.

Marionette Winery’s Amanda Eastwood and Jamie Smith trained extensively in Europe and worked with renowned winemakers before embarking on their wine-making adventure on 40th Street NE in Salmon Arm.

Their goal is to be a low-input and sustainable producer, working towards “balancing the vineyard ecosystem, adapting to and above all respecting the natural processes at work around them.”

They produce three whites, three reds and a rosé and are open from noon to 5 p.m. Thursday to Sunday in June and September and daily in July and August. Call 250-832-7702 for more information.

 

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